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ISE Q&A

Aug. 1, 2017
With President and CEO, Fiber Broadband Association’s Heather Burnett Gold: The Fiber Broadband Association is the only all-fiber trade association in the Americas. It provides advocacy, education, and resources to […]

With President and CEO, Fiber Broadband Association’s Heather Burnett Gold:

The Fiber Broadband Association is the only all-fiber trade association in the Americas. It provides advocacy, education, and resources to companies, organizations, and communities that want to deploy the best networks through fiber-to-the-home, fiber-to-the-business, and fiber everywhere. The member-led association collaborates with industry allies to propel fiber deployment forward for a better broadband future here and around the world.

ISE: What is your leadership philosophy?
Gold: As a trade association executive, I need to have a collaborative style. I need to reach out to the members, particularly those members most invested in the organization and understand what their priorities are. We then need to take those priorities and get them to consensus as the Association’s strategic goals.

ISE: What are your top 2 or 3 priorities this year, and how are you tackling them?
Gold: Our priorities this year are our rebranding — expanding our focus from fiber-to-the-endpoint to an entirely fiber-connected future. Our other major priority is taking our message that fiber accelerates the connected future out to the marketplace, turning our members into evangelists and continuing to advocate on the issues that affect this industry the most at all levels of government.

ISE: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Gold: Knowing that the work the Fiber Broadband Association does really impact people’s lives. I have been in telecom for over 30 years but primarily on the enterprise side. In this job, I see how our educational and advocacy efforts make it possible for folks to get all fiber access and enhance their communities and their day-to-day existence.

ISE: As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the institution to dampen the inspiration. How do you keep this from happening?
Gold: We are a very small Association. Currently we have only 2¾ full-time employees, and we all work from fiber-to-the-home residences. (We walk the talk!) As such we need to be entrepreneurial as are many of our members. That is what will keep us at the edge for many months to come.

ISE: If you could go back and give your 21-year-old self a valuable piece of advice, what would you say?
Gold: Be open to new experiences. I have had many different jobs in my life, from being a research analyst at a brokerage firm, to department store buyer and department manager, to being a top executive in a publically traded company. Each experience taught me something different, and prepared me for whatever was to come next. Also, you should know that the ability to get along with many different types of people is more important than how smart you are.

ISE: Technology players need to think more innovatively about increasing diversity within their organizations and attracting women to roles that are still dominated by men, said Mats Granryd, the Director General of the GSM Association (GSMA, https://www.gsma.com/) at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). Granryd argued the industry could be foregoing billions of dollars in profits because of the shortage of women in senior roles. A report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE, https://piie.com) supports that position by saying there is a strong correlation between gender diversity and profitability.

What is the answer to this challenge, and what is FBA doing in this area?
Gold: The awareness of attracting and retaining more women in the industry is a big challenge. Three years ago, Corning helped us initiate the Women in Fiber lunch at the Annual Conference, where we feature a panel of women leaders discussing what helped/hurt them in their careers, and creating an environment for younger women to ask questions. We need to find a way to expand this effort and make it an ongoing program. But it’s not just telecom that struggles with these issues, all of business does. Because of my own professional development experiences, I am working with Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program to identify how to get more women to apply/participate in their programs.

Heather Burnett Gold is the President and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, a non-profit organization established to help its members plan, market, implement, and manage FTTH solutions. Prior to joining the Association, Gold served as Senior VP of External Affairs for XO Communications, a $1.5 billion telecommunications company, where she was responsible for the creation and execution of a comprehensive public policy strategy, and regularly interacted with Congress, the FCC, the White House, and state lawmakers and regulators. For more information, please email [email protected] or visit fiberbroadband.org.

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About the Author

Sharon Vollman | Editor-in-Chief, ISE Magazine

Sharon Vollman is Editor-in-Chief of ISE Magazine. She oversees the strategic direction and content for ISE Magazine. She also leads the educational content development for ISE EXPO. Vollman has created educational partnerships with the major communications and entertainment providers including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Cincinnati Bell. She has covered the telecom industry since 1996. Prior to that, she worked in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and CME. Vollman has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Advertising from the University of Iowa.